BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 54

211938-l

While we are still in Iowa, here’s another Pic of the Week. Yet this time, we travel to Fayette County in eastern Iowa and the town of Eldorado. Located between Calmar and West Union along the Turkey River, the village is tucked away in the hills of the Bluffs Region, which extends from southeastern Minnesota into the eastern part of Iowa, where all creeks and rivers empty into the Mississippi River. Eldorado has about 200 people and a few historic buildings, but one unique truss bridge. The Eldorado Truss Bridge is a Camelback through truss bridge with M-Frame portal bracings. It was built in 1899 by J.C. Ratcliff, a local bridge builder based in Waukon in Allamakee County and is the only known bridge built by the engineer to date. The 130-foot long bridge has been closed to traffic for a couple decades, yet still remains its historic integrity to date. It can still be accessed from the State Street side and if one is lucky, one can find some shells along the Turkey River, which was my case upon my visit in August 2011. Despite record rainfall in the spring, which caused massive flooding along the Missouri River, water levels receded to a point where one could walk along the river and get a few shots from the river bed, something that was done on a perfect afternoon, while traveling through Iowa.

As a bonus though, there is one bridge nearby, whose mystery has yet to be solved. More on that in the next article here. 🙂

 

bhc-logo-newest1

HYB: Cedar Grove Bridge in Indiana

Oblique view. All photos in this article are courtesy of Tony Dillon

A few years ago, a fellow historian named Satolli Glasmeyer came up with an interesting concept that was short and sweet and would give the viewers a short overview of the historic places on video- not to mention an incentive to visit them on their next road trip. History in Your Own Backyard focuses on hidden treasures- past and present- that have historic character based on the author’s visit(s). The videos are between five and 15 minutes pending on topic and most of the places profiled in the videos are located in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. While some examples will show up as guest column for the Chronicles, you can find the library of videos either on their website here or via youtube.

This HYB example takes us back to an old friend that has been gone for quite some time. The Cedar Grove Bridge once spanned the Whitewater River in Franklin County, Indiana. A product of the Indiana Bridge Company of Muncie, this 2-span Camelback through truss bridge, built in 1914 was the focus of one of the filmed documentaries that was done in its memory. This film was released on 22 February, 2016, five days after the structure was demolished after having sat abandoned for 17 years. Attempts to save it through fundraisers and other policies failed.  Here is the video of the bridge’s history, which includes the demolition.

 

A slideshow of the bridge’s history follows as well:

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 91: The Collapsed Jones Bridge in Georgia

Photo taken by Nathan Holth

 

114-year old bridge collapsed into water. Crews seeking to remove it.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA-  Funeral services are being made for the 114-year old Jones Bridge, as the 114-year old bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River at an Atlanta metro park. According to recent sources, the collapse of the remaining span happened on the 25th of January 2018 at around 1:00pm local time. No one was reported injured at that time. The remaining span was an eight-panel Camelback through truss bridge with pinned connections and a three-rhombus portal bracings. The bridge was between 100 and 130 feet and was the remaining half of the two-span bridge that had existed for only a short time. The bridge was built in 1904 by an unknown contractor and had once connected Fulton and Gwinett Counties at John’s Creek. According to sources, the bridge served traffic for only 20 years before being made obsolete by a concrete bridge. It was subsequentially closed by 1930, yet how things led to the bridge being halved remains a mystery. Newspapers reported that a person masquerading as a bridge contractor had tried to tear down the bridge and sell the parts as scrap metal. Yet residents became suspicious and alerted law enforcement authorities, who came and arrested him but not before having successfully taken down one of the two through truss spans and the approach spans. The question is when exactly did this incident happen, for newspapers claimed that the incident happened in the 1940s, yet ariel imagery showed the entire span still remaining in place in 1955 and the span being halved in the 1960s. It is unknown which of the sources is proven incorrect for newspapers can make typing errors including the wrong date, whereas the photos make have been mixed up to make it look like the sturcture had existed during the 1950s when it was gone by that time. What is needed to solve this case is the exact date of construction of the bridge and its bridge builder, as well as the full detail of the incident: who were involved, when did it happen and lastly, what happened to the perpetraitor?

Two parks surround the remains of the structure are named after the bridge: The Jones Bridge section of the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area to the north and the Jones Bridge County Park in the south. Both facilities will miss having the bridge there as crews work to remove the bridge and possibly salvage part of it as a monument. Yet for a bridge that had survived 70+ years in tact, one wondered had actioned has taken place prior to the incident if that remaining section would have been converted into a picnick area or even fishing pier. All it needed was a new set of cassion piers (as the one in the river had tipped over, causing it to collapse) and new decking. Unfortunately we may never know. However, the collapse will surely signal the need to look at other abandoned structures to see if they can be saved and reused for future purposes. If so, time is ticking for the next abandoned structure next door may be the next to go.